More than five months after Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, the relationship between Durant and Russell Westbrook still remains icy.
Since leaving the Thunder, Durant has tried to downplay any major chasm between the two players, saying Westbrook will always be a friend to him. Westbrook, for the most part, has remained quiet on the issue.
However, as evidenced during the Warriors’ 121-100 win over the Thunder last night, Westbrook doesn’t appear ready to forgive Durant for breaking up a perennial contender to join, well, another perennial contender. The two teams’ first meeting in November lacked much actual Westbrook-Durant drama (besides for a curious pregame outfit by Westbrook), but in the third quarter Wednesday night, a brief exchange highlighted some palpable tension.
It began with a monstrous dunk by Westbrook, as he elevated past Durant for the jam. Afterward, he told Durant “Don’t jump.” The two exchanged words down the floor as Durant then called for the ball and hit a transition three.
On the next play, Westbrook turned it over and Durant came back and drew a foul. Afterward, the two continued exchanging some words, and from the looks of it, it wasn’t very friendly.
It was after the game, however, that showed the true icy nature of their relationship. As players walked off the court, ESPN cameras caught Westbrook yelling at Enes Kanter not to talk to Durant, using some choice, expletive words to describe Durant. Warning: language.
Westbrook was asked after the game if he’s on speaking terms with Durant, and he replied flatly, “No.” When asked about their third-quarter exchange, Westbrook said, “What exchange? You need to sit closer to the game, maybe you didn’t see it clearly.”
Durant was also asked about the third-quarter exchange with Westbrook and clearly did not want to go into details, saying, “He dunked the ball. I ran down court, called for the ball, shot a three and made it.”
According to ESPN’s Royce Young, while Durant seemed to be in a more jovial mood before the game, greeting Thunder players and staff, Westbrook appeared to be in no mood to mend their relationship.
While Wednesday’s matchup didn’t reach the level of hype of the team’s first meeting, it also actually featured some real exchanges between Westbrook and Durant — the type we haven’t seen since Durant joined the Warriors. It seems unlikely that the two will have more to say to one another when they play in Oklahoma City in February. Wednesday night showed, at least briefly, that there are still real emotions lingering from Durant’s decision.
As Young wrote, there are “layers” to Westbrook’s emotions about Durant leaving the franchise, but if Wednesday was any indication, Westbrook may not be ready to talk from quite some time.
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